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DODEA-Korea basketball season canceled due to coronavirus

Senior Collin Metcalf and Humphreys' boys basketball team won't have a season, as DODEA-Korea canceled it on Tuesday.

DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 26, 2021

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The on-again, off-again DODEA-Korea high school basketball season is now off again - this time apparently for keeps.

That announcement was made in a letter dated Tuesday from the DODEA-Korea district superintendent Jeff Arrington. Osan, Humphreys and Daegu high schools notified their student-athletes and coaches over the last two days, school athletics officials and coaches said.

“While we know this will be upsetting news to our student-athletes, due to current conditions, we will be unable to move forward with winter sports,” Arrington’s letter stated.

Basketball was initially not on the list of sports to be offered by DODEA-Pacific this school year due to concerns of spreading the coronavirus. And Far East tournaments in all sports were also taken off the table, though a few have been held virtually, such as cross country.

However, on Nov. 13, the DODEA-Korea district announced it would offer basketball for boys and girls from mid-January to mid-February.

Conditioning was to begin Dec. 19, with tryouts starting Jan. 4 and the district finals scheduled for Feb. 19-20.

But U.S. Forces Korea announced Dec. 19 it was implementing Health Protection Condition C, or Charlie. Under DODEA-Pacific guidelines, schools reverted to remote learning, with no co-curricular activities.

HPCON-C has remained in effect since.

“I’m kind of disappointed, but not surprised,” Osan athletics director Jerome Learman said. “I was hoping they would keep holding. I feel badly for the kids, particularly the seniors who didn’t get to have (their final) season. But it’s out of our hands.”

DODEA-Pacific schools have not played basketball since the first (and last) day of the 2020 Far East tournaments.

Humphreys’ boys players and coaches in particular were upset; the Blackhawks won the Far East Division I tournament in 2019 and now must go without a season of any description this school year.

“I’m very disappointed,” Blackhawks senior center Collin Metcalf said. “We’re all frustrated that there is no basketball season.”

It’s not known when or if USFK might revert back to HPCON-B.

“Hopefully, we can have a full spring season,” Daegu athletics director and boys basketball coach Blake Sims said.

In other developments, track and field received a faint glimmer of hope Monday when DODEA-Pacific athletics coordinator Tom McKinney said that consideration is being given to staging a virtual Far East meet.

Practices for spring sports were originally scheduled to start Jan. 19 on Okinawa. But those were put on hold and remain that way, DODEA-Okinawa superintendent Jacqueline Ferguson said.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com
Twitter: @daveornauer